Sunday, December 4, 2011

Department of Defense Embracing Alternative Medicine

Once labeled quackery these methods show promise for Veterans

(All Voices by Debbie Nicholson) Would you be surprised to know that the Department of Defense has designated several billion dollars for research into these healing techniques. The Pentagon has also dedicated five million dollars as grant money to research into some of these methods such as acupuncture and meditation in order to treat PTSD in veterans. Let us not forget the U.S. Army who gave four million dollars in grant money for research into alternative methods to treat and heal conditions such as PTSD, anxiety, substance abuse and depression.

These unconventional healing methods have been showing promise among veterans and military personnel.

Appearing in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2010, research had been conducted on the effects reiki on Acute Coronary Syndrome. The results of the study had demonstrated it was a benefit to patients however, the long term effects are still unclear.

This year meditation had been advocated by celebrities and a medical researcher to prompt the Department of Defense that medication can aide the increasing number of military personnel from post-traumatic stress (PTSD).

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, Georgetown Medical School clinical professor states that he has the facts, figures and testimonials showing meditation can be a low-cost, low-risk alternative to strong narcotics which are usually prescribed by government doctors.

Dr. Rosenthal quotes one case in which a Marine gunner on a Humvee who witnessed heavy fighting in Iraq. The marine had written that the symptoms of PTSD disturbed his sleep and wrecked his family life upon returning to the United States. However, the marine had said "TM (transcendental meditation) has helped with organizing, prioritizing and just being calmer overall. I just feel better."

The military has and is confronting a number of disputes over the use of powerful prescribed drugs for a variety of stress related illnesses which have increased risks and sometimes fatal results.

Just last year the drug Seroquel made the media due to many soldier's and veterans using this medication had died. There was an uncertainty as to how many soldiers died while using this drug or if it was the direct source of death. The Veterans Affairs Department immediately had stated that this drug was only being prescribed as a fourth option for patients suffering insomnia from PTSD.

Even as far back as 2008, the pentagon had been seeking new ways to treat troops who suffered from combat stress or brain damage by looking into alternative methods such as meditation, acupuncture and yoga.

There are currently some military hospitals and installations in which have already put into practice alternative methods such as acupuncture to relieve stress. Army Brigadier General Loree Sutton, head of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury had stated to USA today back in 2008, “it just makes sense to bring all potential therapies to bear”.

In 2009, 900 soldier's at Fort Bliss' William Beaumont Army Medical Center had been diagnosed with PTSD. Among the 900 soldier's, 700 had received regular treatment and had been doing fine according to Dr. John Fortunato, chief of behavioral health at the center, Vietnam veteran, psychologist and Benedictine monk. However, he stated that out of the 900 there was 200 soldier's who had severe symptoms were to be medically discharge. Half of those had opted for the Restoration and Resilience Program. This program offers psychological therapy along with spiritual guidance and alternative therapies such as meditation and acupuncture. The program lasts six months and two-thirds of the soldier's return to duty. Most of the other third who do not return is usually due to physical reasons such as chronic back pain.

In Texas, Fort Hood which is large and noted as being the largest active duty armored post in the United States Armed Services, offers the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program for those soldier's with combat stress and PTSD. Soldier's participate each day for a period of three weeks in alternative therapies which are aimed at calming the mind, body and spirit. The therapies include group therapy, biofeedback, education in coping skills, acupuncture, massage and yoga. That is then followed by weekly group therapy for eight weeks.

In June of this year, a pilot study published in Volume 176, Number 6, issue of Military Medicine had shown veterans of Iraq/Afghanistan had a fifty percent decrease in their symptoms of PTSD after a period of eight weeks practicing Transcendental Meditation.

This month the US Department of Veteran Affairs has announced the launch of the Congressionally mandated chiropractic services program.

The following has been released by the DAV:

Veterans can receive chiropractic care at 26 selected Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities beginning this fall, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Anthony J. Principi announced today.

VA will hire or contract with doctors of chiropractic to provide the care. In consultation with VA primary care providers, doctors of chiropractic will offer patient evaluations and chiropractic care for neuromusculoskeletal conditions.

"Today, VA makes another significant improvement to the world-class health care we provide for eligible veterans," said Principi. "Veterans who will benefit from chiropractic services will now have the opportunity to receive chiropractic care to restore them to good health."

The following locations of where chiropractic care will be provided include the following:

Locations where chiropractic care will be provided include Togus, Maine; West Haven/Newington, Conn.; Buffalo and the Bronx, N.Y.; Butler, Pa.; Martinsburg, W.Va.; Salisbury, NC; Augusta, Ga.; Tampa and Miami, Fla.; Mountain Home, Tenn.; Columbus, Ohio; Danville, Ill.; Iron Mountain, Mich.; Kansas City, MO.; Jackson, Miss.; San Antonio, Temple, and Dallas, Texas; Albuquerque and Phoenix, N.M.; Fort Harrison, Mont.; Seattle, Wash.; Martinez and Los Angeles, Calif.; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

If you are an eligible veteran in areas distant from the above locations you also will be able to receive chiropractic care through the VA's outpatient fee-basis program after referral from a primary care provider and prior authorization from the department.

With the outstanding results alternative medicine has been demonstrating the Veterans Administration continues to sponsor research into Complimentary and Alternative Medicine to treat US soldier's who are suffering from these conditions.